Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Keller on Church Size - further suggestions for very large churches

Allow the decentralisation of power
A church that has grown to 1800 members will see the ‘hub and spokes’ structure, with the senior pastor as the hub and the staff as the spokes, become obsolete. No longer one team under the senior pastor, the staff become a team of teams. Power is shifted to specific departments, each under a director and the senior pastor can no longer supervise those directors closely. Two major consequences come from this – staff leaders have more responsibility for their own area since others in the team have insufficient information and ability to question decisions. Secondly staff cannot expect the same level of mentoring, instruction and supervision - or rescuing - from the executive staff as they previously received.

Bring on more specialised, competent staff workers who understand the vision
Fact: churches of less than 800 members are staffed primarily with theological college trained ministers but the larger the church becomes, the less of these there are on staff. Why?
- The very large church needs specialists in counselling, music, finance, social work, children’s development, while theological colleges produce generalists. The need is for specialists who can be theologically trained - not vice versa.
- The very large church can’t afford to hire people who aren’t already experienced and competent in a particular ministry – a young person straight from seminary may be able to run a youth work of 30 but won’t be able to deal with a group of 300. For all staff, the larger a church becomes the greater the competence required and the requirement that they ‘make things happen’ is a large one. Resourcefulness and creativity are of prime importance at this stage, with staff needing to be able to inspire followers and to move to be leaders of leaders
- The very large church will have a distinctive vision – with a highly defined and carefully balanced set of emphases and styles (its ‘voice’). Those trained in seminaries prior to coming on staff invariably bring a set of attitudes and assumptions to the task, perhaps even a superior attitude and an underestimation/ignorance of that church’s specific context, so it becomes more important for a large church to train and recruit leaders from within. The result of this is that those from within require heavy support for continued theological education and those recruited from outside the church need thorough training in the church’s history, values and culture.